Just What is Managed Hosting?

You’ve probably Googled this before: “What is managed hosting?”. While the results can be overwhelming, there’s an underlying problem: “managed” is an overloaded term, with no single company using the same meaning. Here is a clear definition – one confirmed by industry analysts – of what “managed” means in the hosting world. More importantly, we’ll share how Media Temple implements “managed,” i.e. what you should expect “managed” to mean when it comes to our hosting solutions.

Certain characteristics must be met for a hosting solution to be considered ”managed,” – the full extent of which may vary depending on the type of hosting (i.e. WordPress, Shared, VPS, or Cloud). However, these characteristics describe the software managing the hosting solution – and its performance:

  • OS installation and updates;
  • Application installation and updates;
  • Malware scanning (and cleanup);
  • Performance monitoring;
  • And, finally, backups.

At Media Temple, we made all of our hosting solutions fit the definition provided above – from WordPress and shared hosting to VPS and cloud hosting services for AWS.

As an example, this is how our recently-relaunched managed shared hosting platform, Grid, matches the definition of “managed” hosting:

  • Media Temple manages and patches the shared platform’s underlying OS so all customers benefit.
  • A catalog of 20 one-click apps are automatically updated by an app installer, which ensures users enjoy the most recent version of said apps.
  • SiteLock’s Secure Malware Alert and Removal Tool (SMART) proactively scans customers’ websites for vulnerabilities. SMART will automatically remove any detected threats. In other words, a user will never have to worry about malware attacks.
  • Websites’ performance are closely monitored and their response time is displayed in the Grid panel.
  • Built-in 30-day file and database backups — with the ability to restore individual files with one click.

As said earlier, the definition of “managed” hosting may be met in a slightly different way or include more elements, depending on the type of hosting solution. For example, the generally accepted definition of Managed WordPress includes the aforementioned bullet points: plus 1) multiple tiers of caching (architecture), and 2) a set of developer-friendly tools (software). Thus, when it came to our Managed WordPress solution, we made sure it included two tiers of caching (Varnish and Memcached), and developer tools like WP-CLI, SSH, FTP, as well as site cloning and staging.

Hopefully, this post helps clarify any confusion regarding managed hosting. To recap, “managed” is really about managing the server through software. While Media Temple automates this, some companies may do this manually and include (or exclude) some other facets of system administration such as configuration, performance tuning, to name a few. Look carefully and make sure you are picking the right solutions for your business needs. In our case, we use “fully managed” to articulate all of the elements of software management AND the hands-on support of CloudTech for additional SysAdmin activity (such as configuration and performance tuning).

It’s amazing how one word, “managed,” can have such an impact on both users’ understanding of a given hosting solution and what the web host behind it is really committing to offering them.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to get back to you!



  • This explanation is super-helpful and clarifies what I can expect from Media Temple on the server-side. Closer to the client side, I do a fair amount of management for sites that are hosted on my Grid account. Not sure if I’m a “reseller” of sorts for the inherent reliability of the MT hosting, and if “managed hosting” isn’t the proper term for server-side site management by developers … what is?

  • Frank McClung

    Alec, I think that it should be clearly stated (and maybe I missed it in the article or on the WP Managed hosting page), that WordPress Managed Hosting with Media Temple IS shared hosting. Thus, all the same issues with the Grid and another shared site hogging resources on your cluster will impact your WP Managed site. I found this out the hard way. I also discovered the hard way when I called in for a slowness issue with a client site on the WP Managed that Media Temple techs can’t see the loads on those managed servers…because MT’s Managed WordPress hosting is on GoDaddy Servers. Finding this out did not make me happy. Please correct me if I am wrong in anyway about where the WordPress Managed servers are and who controls them. When GoDaddy took over MT, this is what we were all afraid of as customers.

    • Hi Frank,

      First, thank you for being a loyal Media Temple customer for the past eleven years, we appreciate your business.
      We are sorry to hear about your issue and are glad it’s resolved.

      Let me answer your second question first: While we continue to operate separately from GoDaddy, we do leverage GoDaddy’s top notch data center (from a security, operations and scale perspective) when it comes to our Managed WordPress solution. This allows our own engineers, product managers, and UX team to focus on designing the premium features and user experience that would meet the needs of our customers. In other words: While we joined technology forces with GoDaddy, this is a Media Temple product and you are still very much a Media Temple customer.

      Now to your first point: Yes, our WordPress hosting solution utilizes clustered/shared hosting architecture, which allows hundreds of servers to handle the load to improve performance and reliability. Grid and WordPress are similar in this vein. However, our Managed WordPress also has improved caching and other architectural improvements, all of which are optimized and supported for WordPress, which separates it from Grid. As to your point about WordPress suffering from the same maladies as Grid, this is true insofar that these are issues (such as DDOS) that affect all forms of shared hosting. That being said, the clustered architecture is designed to handle traffic spikes much better than VPS or other forms of hosting. I hope you find this answer helpful. ^AR

      • Frank McClung

        Thanks for following up Alec. So the short answer is: Yes, the servers are not at MT’s facilities but at GoDaddy. And yes, they are shared servers. And yes they suffer from the same issues as the Grid in dealing with neighbors who take up too many resources. So MT doesn’t operate their on servers with WP Managed Hosting. And MT engineers are not running the show with the Godaddy WP managed servers. This hurts MT’s customers and tarnishes MTs stellar reputation. It’s a bit like MT has become a car dealer. Sad.

        When will the MT support techs be able to access all the WordPress server info they need to diagnose issues for customers? I’ve called in several times with latency issues and they all say that not being able to access server load info? is a problem that needs to be addressed.

  • Masterarts

    What is managed hosting, this is very well explained in your article. I agree that word, “managed,” has such an great impact. What are your thoughts about Cloudways managed cloudhosting that offers cloud application management & 1 click managed cloud hosting platform to host and manage websites.

  • Thanks for sharing with us.

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